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To: All

From: 1 John 3:11-21

Loving One Another

[11] For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning,
that we should love one another, [12] and not be like Cain who was of
the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him?
Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. [13] Do
not wonder, brethren, that the world hates you. [14] We know that we
have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He
who does not love remains in death. [15] Any one who hates his brother
is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding
in him. [16] By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us;
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. [17] But if any
one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his
heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? [18] Little
children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.

[19] By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our
hearts before him [20] whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is
greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. [21] Beloved, if our
hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.


11-22. St John begins this important passage on the subject of
brotherly love with the same elevated tone as in 1:5. As usual with
his style, it is difficult to discern any rigid arrangement of
concepts, but there is a clear connection of ideas, expressed in
paradoxes and contrasts. 1) Statement of the central theme--the
commandment of love (v. 11). 2) Its counterpoint is the sin of Cain
(v. 12); those who do not practise brotherly love are as much
murderers as he was (vv. 13-15). 3) Our model (a new contrast) is
Christ, who gave his life for us (v. 16); brotherly love, following
our Lord’s example, must go beyond mere talk; it must show itself in
deed and in truth (vv. 17-18). 4) The consequence of brotherly love is
total confidence in God, who knows everything (vv. 19-22).

This passage of St John has led to many beautiful, touching
commentaries by the Fathers of the Church. “I believe this is the
pearl the merchant in the Gospel was looking for, which when he found
it led him to sell everything he had and buy it (Mt 13:46). This is
the precious pearl--Charity; unless you have it, everything else you
have is of no use to you; and if you have it alone, you need nothing
else. Now you see with faith; later on you will see with intuitive
vision; if we love now, when we do not see, what degree of love shall
we not attain when we do see! And, meanwhile, what should we be doing?
We should be loving the brethren. You may be able to say, I have not
seen God; but can you say, I have not seen man? Love your brother. If
you love your brother whom you see, you will also see God, because you
will see charity, and God dwells within it” (St Augustine, "In Epist.
Ioann. Ad Parthos", 5,7).

11. The new commandment of brotherly love, which Jesus expressly
taught at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 13:34-35 and note) is the “message”
which Christians have learned from the beginning (cf. 1 Jn 2:7). There
is no more sublime commandment, and all the commandments are summed up
in it. As St Augustine explains, “Everyone can make the sign of the
cross of Christ; everyone can answer, Amen; everyone can sing
Alleluia; everyone can have himself baptized, can enter churches, can
build the walls of basilicas. But charity is the only thing by which
the children of God can be told from the children of the devil. Those
who practise charity are born of God; those who do not practise it are
not born of God. An important mark, an essential difference! You may
have whatever you like, but if you lack this, just this, everything
else is of no use whatsoever; and if you lack everything and have
nothing but this, you have done fulfilled the law!” ("In Epist. Ioann.
Ad Parthos", 5,7).

12. Cain is the prototype of those who belong to the devil; not only
because he took his brother’s life by violence, but because the hatred
nestling in his heart prevented him from recognizing his brother’s
goodness. The same reaction can happen today: “Because you don’t know,
or don’t want to know, how to imitate that man’s upright manner of
acting, your secret envy makes you seek to ridicule him” ([St] J.
Escrivá, "Furrow", 911).

13. In this verse, an aside breaking the flow of the argument, St John
seeks to encourage all Christians, particularly his immediate readers
who were probably experiencing persecution (perhaps that ordered by
the emperor Domitian). Jesus clearly predicted that his disciples
would be persecuted as he was (cf. Jn 15:18-22).

For a Christian, difficulties should provide an opportunity to show
firmness in the faith and not be sad or discouraged (cf. Jn 16:1-4):
“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed,
because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet 4:14).

14-15. The Christian life involves passing from death to life, from
sin to grace. Anyone who does not practise the commandment of love
“remains in death [sin]”.

“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” This unambiguous
statement echoes the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
“every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment”
(Mt 5:22). The internal sin of hatred has the same malicious root as
the external act of murder.

By speaking in this way, St John makes it crystal clear that hatred of
one’s neighbor is incompatible with the Christian faith.

16-18. From Jesus the Christian learns what love is and what demands
it makes--not only through his sublime teaching (like that about the
Good Shepherd in John 10:1ff or his discourse at the Last Supper) but
above all by his example: “he laid down his life for us”, by dying on
the cross. We “ought” to do the same; the Greek word St John uses
implies a duty. That is, the precept of brotherly love imposes an
obligation for two reasons--by the very nature of things, since all
men are brothers and children of God; and because we are indebted to
Christ and must respond to the infinite love he showed by giving his
life for us.

Using an example very like that in the Letter of St James (cf. Jas
2:15-16), he shows that true love expresses itself in actions: anyone
who “closes his heart” when he sees others in need does not truly
love. The saints have constantly reminded us of St John’s teaching:
“what the Lord desires is works. If you see a sick woman to whom you
can give some help, never be affected by the fear that your devotion
will suffer, but take pity on her: if she is in pain, you should feel
pain too; if necessary, fast so that she may have your food, not so
much for her sake as because you know it to be your Lord’s will. That
is true union with his will. Again, if you hear someone being highly
praised, be much more pleased than if they were praising you” (St
Teresa of Avila, "Interior Castle", V, 3, 11).

19-22. The Apostle reassures us; God knows everything; not only does
he know our sins and our frailties, he also knows our repentance and
our good desires, and he understands and forgives us (St Peter, on the
Lake of Tiberias, made the same confession to Jesus: “Lord, you know
everything, you know that I love you”: Jn 21:17).

St John’s teaching on divine mercy is very clear: if our conscience
tells us we have done wrong, we can seek forgiveness and strengthen
our hope in God; if our conscience does not accuse us, our confidence
in God is ardent and bold, like that of a child who has loving
experience of his Father’s tenderness. The love of God is mightier
than our sins, Pope John Paul II reminds us: “When we realize that
God’s love for us does not cease in the face of our sin or recoil
before our offences, but becomes even more attentive and generous;
when we realize that this love went so far as to cause the Passion and
Death of the Word made flesh who consented to redeem us at the price
of his own blood, then we exclaim in gratitude: ‘Yes, the Lord is rich
in mercy’, and even: ‘The Lord is mercy” ("Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia", 22).

This confidence in God makes for confidence in prayer: “If you abide
in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall
be done for you" (Jn 15:7; cf. 14:13f; 16:23, 26-27).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland.

5 posted on 01/05/2006 9:17:53 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

From: John 1:43-51

The Calling of the First Disciples (Continuation)

[43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And He found Philip
and said to him, "Follow Me." [44] Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the
city of Andrew and Peter. [45] Philip found Nathaniel, and said to
him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets
wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." [46] Nathaniel said to
him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him,
"Come and see." [47] Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and said to
him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"
[48] Nathaniel said to Him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him,
"Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw
you." [49] Nathaniel answered Him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God!
You are the King of Israel! [50] Jesus answered him, "Because I said
to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see
greater things than these." [51] And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I
say to you, you will see Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending
and descending upon the Son of Man."


43. "Follow Me" is what Jesus usually says to all His disciples (cf. Mt
4:19; 8:22; 9:9). During Jesus' lifetime, His invitation to follow Him
implied being with Him in His public ministry, listening to His
teaching, imitating His lifestyle, etc. Once the Lord ascended into
Heaven, following Him obviously does not mean going with Him along the
roads of Palestine; it means that "a Christian should live as Christ
lived, making the affections of Christ his own, so that he can exclaim
with St Paul: "It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in
me'" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 103). In all cases our
Lord's invitation involves setting out on a journey: that is,
itrequires one to lead a life of striving always to do God's will even
if this involves generous self-sacrifice.

45-51. The Apostle Philip is so moved that he cannot but tell his
friend Nathanael (Bartholomew) about his wonderful discovery (verse
45). "Nathanael had heard from Scripture that Jesus must come from
Bethlehem, from the people of David. This belief prevailed among the
Jews and also the prophet had proclaimed it of old, saying: `But you, O
Bethlehem, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you
shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler of Israel' (Micah 5:2).
Therefore, when he heard that He was from Nazareth, he was troubled and
in doubt, since he found that the announcement of Philip was not in
agreement with the words of the prophecy" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom.
on St. John", 20, 1).

A Christian may find that, in trying to communicate his faith to
others, they raise difficulties. What should he do? What Philip
did--not trust his own explanation, but invite them to approach Jesus
personally: "Come and see" (verse 46). In other words, a Christian
should bring his fellow-men, his brothers into Jesus' presence through
the means of grace which He has given them and which the Church
ministers--frequent reception of the sacraments, and devout Christian

Nathanael, a sincere person (verse 47), goes along with Philip to see
Jesus; he makes personal contact with our Lord (verse 48), and the
outcome is that he receives faith (the result of his ready reception of
grace, which reaches him through Christ's human nature: verse 49).

As far as we can deduce from the Gospels, Nathanael is the first
Apostle to make an explicit confession of faith in Jesus as Messiah and
as Son of God. Later on St. Peter, in a more formal way, will
recognize our Lord's divinity (cf. Matthew 16:16). Here (verse 51)
Jesus evokes a text from Daniel (7:13) to confirm and give deeper
meaning to the words spoken by His new disciple.

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland.

6 posted on 01/05/2006 9:20:25 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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